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Keep sleepwalking south,
where the cicadas scream
and the air is thick with ancient sins:
touch the mulch beneath
the razor-grass in the deep trench beside the highway,
it is trees, leaves, and tadpoles
cooling like blood slowing
from an unexpected cut.
“The spirit grows,” the dragonflies whisper,
“strength is restored through wounding.”
The sun never sets;
remind yourself, raggedly, to breathe
in shudders, as sweat
rivulets along unhealed scars on your neck.

Subsequently published in Andwerve, August 2006.

21 May 06

Rated 9.3 (8.7) by 9 users.
Active (9): 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10, 10
Inactive (8): 1, 6, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10

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beautiful words, soupy spirit. Miami, in summer, makes me think of turtle soup.  
 — borntodance

I'm not sure if lines 9+10 enhance or detract from overall steaminess.
 — borntodance

"Sleepwalking south" Wonderful picture!  You described the South to a T!
I like it a lot!
 — violet

i love voices like this, the kind that come as a torrent and yet give clear images and an interesting twist. this is well done.
 — listen

 — slancho

mikki!  wow!
wait a second while i pick myself up.

i absolutely love the assonance of lines 1-3.
lines 4-8 (aka the rest of the stanza) is good.  it's vivid, descriptive enough
to make me look outside my window and recheck the grass and trees on my lawn.

plus i love dragonflies.  except when they bite.

lines 11-14 i want to keep forever.
so!--overall, sometimes this site makes me want to just quit.
but this is one of those times that i'm so glad i keep coming back.

stay with it,
 — midare

quite interesting, keep it up.
 — unknown

Thanks, listen -- beauty is in the smallest things, the silence between words.  I'm glad you liked the twist.

Maria, thanks.  Burroughs was right, you know.

midare, thanks again.  Any thoughts on the dragonflies' whispers?  I am probably married to those lines, but wonder if the menace & promise of that moment of magical realism adds or detracts; borntodance has yet to elaborate.
 — mikkirat

Line 9 and Line 11 don't work but the rest is fine work.
 — DPK

Okay, M. I will elaborate briefly. I've read the poem aloud with and without lines 9+10. It seems to me that they belong in/to another poem. They intrude here. The intrusion is delicate, but to my ears and eyes, Arteries is better without lines 9+10. Either way, of course, it is a great poem.

just one person's opinion.

 — borntodance

don't start your poetry with a quote. let the poetry do the talking.
 — PoetryGod

resign your title poetry god. some of the best poetry uses introductory quotes.
 — unknown

i live in the south.

rather far south, at that.

you've got the right description of the cicadas and the air.
 — mould_jesus

Grace, thanks for explaining further; I appreciate the input from you & DPK, but for now I think I'll leave it in and give it a couple of days to see if I'm less married to those lines.

I've decided to drop the epigraph; I've never published anything with one, really, I just like promoting poets some people may never have heard of (like Robert J. Levy, whom I had quoted).  I'm a strong supporter of the idea that aspiring poets should spend a lot of time at used-book stores, finding and reading as many contemporary poets as possible, as well as doing workshops: friends and lovers make unhelpful critics.

Thanks all,
 — mikkirat

I liked it better before. To give credit to a poem or poet for an inspiration shows appreciation.
 — unknown

The first three lines make a fantastic opening. It took me a while to accept the connection between the flowing blood and the capillaries of water in the natural landscape, but ultimately I found myself finding more in it each time. A very good poem - the whispering dragonfliees quite captivated my imagination.
 — opal

The air is thick with ancient sins everywhere you go.
 — mixtapeboy

Overwhelming images- remind me of the heat of the South (which i never really liked, but that's another poem..lol) as well as that of blood cascading then cooling. The pace is strong as well...almost like a pulse. A new Fave., well done
 — SkinImIn

it sucks!!!!!
 — unknown

i'm glad i read this again. i would figure previous unknown was just being sarcastic, as suggested by the exclamation points. (so in other words he likes it!)
 — listen

Sin impregnates the pure air of nature every time a human breathes. This is a fine fine poem and i wonder why i can't think of stuff like this to write about.Don't bother replying.
 — larrylark

this poem makes beautiful music.
 — sparrow

Thanks, all.  I hope this poem brings some Faulkner & Capote moments for you to enjoy.
 — mikkirat

very awesome. i appreciated the unique style in which you wrote this. on top of that, your meaning was very wonderful- thought-provoking, interesting, and different. also, the story which you tell through this poem really tells the reader something. well done.
 — lanezfairy

mmm-hmm okay I see why you pulled the line from the other; it belongs here. *smile* This is wonderful; there's so much packed into it...that dragonfly bit--yum. Well, the whole think, actually. I'm glad you directed me to it.
 — gem_grrrl

I really like this poem.
 — skinnyJon

nice poem
 — chuckles

I can feel the humidity.  You have some beautiful, lyrical phrases, such as 3 and 9.
 — Isabelle5

great imagery. I am not sure if the dragonflies quote goes along with the rest of the poem - the poem seems to have a great underlying meaning and the quote seems to make it too blatent and take away the work for we the readers. But still, it's very good. I like the blood slowing metaphor as well as the breathe in shudders, as sweat metaphor.
 — papermoon

i love this.
 — misspanda

Very nice southern trip I just took
 — InfaFred

Thanks again.  I'm pretty happy with this poem overall.

papermoon, yes, the dragonfly quote has been the big question mark in this poem.  It does direct the reader some, but, while somewhat abstract, I hope it ties in well enough with the 'arteries' theme yet still leaves room for interpretation.  I've also considered using this poem as the opening poem of a collection, and recently wrote a companion piece as a bookend,
http://poetry.tetto.o rg/read/40330/

We'll see how it goes.
Thanks, everyone.
 — mikkirat

 — poetbill

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